How Matiang’i plans to end matatu madness

Mr Stephen Njenga, a driver with Everbest Sacco, at Kwambira garage in Limuru on Monday last week. [George Njunge, Standard]

Motorists, passenger and public service vehicles today wake up to uncertainty over how to reach their destinations as a nationwide crackdown to restore sanity on the roads starts.

Traffic officers will be on the lookout for violators of the 'Michuki laws' that have largely been forgotten 15 years after they were introduced.

The laws were introduced by former Transport minister John Michuki who brought sweeping changes to the country's highway code and changed how PSVs operate.

At least 4,000 traffic officers will be reinforced by another 10,000 police officers to ensure success of the crackdown.

Interior CS Fred Matiang'i has vowed to come down hard on violators. He has warned that there would be no backing down on the resolve to restore sanity in the transport sector.

Matiang'i yesterday said the Government will not be cowed by threats from PSV operators to keep off the roads to protest the crackdown.

Federation of Public Transport Operators called for a nationwide withdrawal of all matatus from the roads until several issues have been agreed upon.

These include the directive on arrest and prosecution of drivers, owners and saccos/companies and banning of registered drivers and conductors uniform despite having been allowed by NTSA and Kenya Industrial Property Institute.  

They also took issue with conflict of NTSA, Traffic Act Chapter 403 and Matiang'i's orders on the same, arbitrary arrests and detaining of matatus despite having inspection stickers from NTSA and the CS's order to withdraw  staff of saccos from termini after accusing them of being cartels. 

The federation is headed by Mr Edwin Mukabana and its members are Matatu Owners Association (MOA), Matatu Welfare Association (MWA), Association of Matatu Operators, Association of Bus Operators Kenya and Mt Kenya  Matatu Owners Association, Association of Matatu Owners and Matatu Transport Vehicles Association.

MWA chairman Dickson Mbugua said they believe the crackdown is not being implemented in good faith.

Matiang'i has maintained his firm stance on the matter. “If we don’t do it now, we will lose it. All officers involved have been briefed and instructed on what to do. They know their work and there will be thorough supervision to ensure compliance,” said the CS.

A multi-agency team comprising National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA), the National Police Service and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP) has been tasked with restoring sanity on roads. 

Deputy DPP Dorcas Oduor said there are enough prosecutors to process cases that will be presented, while NTSA said the crackdown will leverage on use of technology.

All OCSs will also be in charge of enforcement of the Michuki rules.

Deputy Inspector General of Police Edward Mbugua issued the directive on November 2, 2018, to all police officers indicating traffic operations had been devolved to the station level to ensure effectiveness.

“The OCS should take charge of all personnel as per the station nominal roll and deploy all the officers in rotation for each and every officer to acquaint himself or herself with police work,” said part of the directive.

The officers had also been asked to read and understand the laws and rules touching on road safety.

Apart from operators, insurance companies and vehicle body builders will also be targeted in the crackdown.

Compromised law enforcement officers will not be spared either while motor vehicle inspection unit officers found to be complacent will face a raft of retributive measures.

Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet said six independent teams have been formed to support the county police commanders in effecting the regulations.

This means the OCS will be supervised by the OCPD who will in turn be checked by the county commanders, regional commanders and other top officers.

Speaking in Nakuru on Saturday, Matiang'i accused matatu crews of violating traffic rules, warning those that break the laws will be arrested.

The Kenya Driving Schools Association Nyanza chairman Samwel Nyakado said the crackdown would be futile without dealing with corruption among police officers.

[Additional reporting by Cynthia Odhiambo]

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